You’d almost expect typing Mikko Koivu’s name in Twitter would generate a fire emoji.
The Wild captain has seven points in the past two games for a team that has gone from a dominant defensive stretch to an offense factory.
The Wild is 6-0-3 in the past nine games and, after giving up only five goals in a six-game stretch, has scored 11 in its past two.
Koivu, on a relatively new line centering Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker, had two goals and an assist in Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Rangers and a goal and three assists in Tuesday’s 6-2 drubbing of Vancouver.
“The thing with Thomas and Jason, they think alike in a lot of ways,” Koivu said. “Zucks is speed, Thomas is pressure around the net … I try to read where they are and try to find the open spots and be ready when they get the puck.”
Both Koivu and the Wild have been hot and cold offensively at times; the Wild had only 10 goals in six games before scoring 11 in the past two.
“If you are getting chances, they don’t always go in, but you have to stick with it,” Koivu said. “It’s like that as an individual or a team. We didn’t score there a lot but were still able to get points with good defense, and now the puck is going in.”
Said coach Mike Yeo: “Mikko’s game has been strong for a while. He’s been getting chances, he’s getting the puck a lot, he’s getting the puck in dangerous areas, and it’s nice to see him taking advantage of it. I like that you’re seeing the puck on his stick more. He’s really pushing to get in there, pushing to get the puck down low, and jumping on loose pucks … to try to create turnovers to get into [scoring] situations.”
The Wild is 5-for-8 on power plays the past two games, raising it to ninth in the league in power-play percentage (.208) and second at home (.278). But it is only .128 on the road, 26th in the 30-team NHL.
“Power play the last couple of games has been key for us; we have to find a way to bring it on the road now,” Yeo said. “It’s been outstanding at home for us; we obviously want to stay on top of that. It is not just scoring goals but scoring goals at key times.”
The discrepancy between home and road success is “hard to explain,” said defenseman Jared Spurgeon.
“Maybe teams at home kill differently than on the road,” said Spurgeon, who has two of his four goals with a man advantage. “The game in Phoenix we had a couple of full two-minute power plays that stayed in their zone and we didn’t score … but we were penetrating and making plays. The guys are making plays a little quicker, not holding on to the puck so long. When the power play’s moving it’s tough for the PK to get into the right position.
“It’s all hockey when you get out there. You can watch all the video you want, but once you get out there, you have to read what you can get and take it. That’s what we’re doing.”
Said Koivu: “Teams were scouting us as well. We’ve made a couple of changes, but the puck seems to be going in. As long as you are creating and getting momentum for the team, that’s a good sign.”
Center Jarret Stoll made his Wild debut on Thursday against his former team and won 11 of 15 faceoffs.
He took a second-period penalty that somehow put the Wild on the offensive.
“He almost helped us — we almost scored two shorthanded goals on it,” Yeo joked. “But I mean, you look at that [penalty] kill in the third period, it’s just so huge you put a guy out there and he wins the faceoff and the puck is down the ice. The things he’s saying, the attitude he brings, it was a good first impression.”
• Yeo said he’ll go with the same lineup in Nashville, meaning Devan Dubnyk will start in goal and center Erik Haula will be an odd man out. Yeo said backup Darcy Kuemper will likely get to play either Monday or Tuesday; the Wild has back-to-back home games against Dallas and Montreal.
• The Wild will practice outdoors on Tuesday, at 11 a.m. at Braemar Arena in Edina. The practice is open to the public.